Every year, thousands of tourists visit Burns Cottage, where Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) was born and spent his formative years. His celebrated works include poems such as Address to a Haggis, and Auld Lang Syne, which is sung during New Year’s celebrations across the world.
Most visitors then jump into their cars and drive a short distance to the Burns Museum to check out more information.
In doing so, many sadly miss out on a ten-minute walkway that connects these two attractions. The path is complete with child-proof sculptures and beautiful iron-wrought weather vanes. The vanes depict scenes from Burns’s epic poem, Tam O’Shanter. While the various art pieces represent figures from the famous bard’s other works by renowned British artists, the path is maintained by the National Trust of Scotland and new pieces are routinely commissioned
The story follows a man named Tam, who got into a drunken adventure on his way home. After a heavy drinking session, Tam chanced upon a group of witches and Satan having a party in a church, Alloway Auld Kirk. Emboldened with alcohol, he stopped to spy on the gathering. Unfortunately, he completely forgot himself in drunken foolhardiness and called out to one of the witches,”Weel done, Cutty-sark!”. Incandescent with rage, the witches gave chase.
He then fled away on the back of his trusty mare, named “Maggie”, to a nearby bridge, the Brig o’ Doon; for witches cannot not cross running water. One witch managed to remove poor Maggie’s tail. The poem concludes with a warning about drinking irresponsibly and to give pause for the poor unfortunate nag, Maggie.
Know Before You Go
To find the path, leave from Burns Cottage car park, cross the road, and walk right to the small roundabout. From the roundabout, turn left and keep walking until you see the sign for the Poet's Path.
During the winter months, the weathervanes are taken down, cleaned, and refurbished. They are re-installed for the high season for tourism in the spring.
If driving, it is best advised to either use The Burns Cottage or The Burns History Museum Car Park and use the Poet's Path to access either venue.
There is a regular bus service from the train station in Ayr, and it will take less than 15 minutes if riding a bicycle.